Home advantage ruled on the opening day of the A1 play-offs as all top-four teams scored wins at home to lead the best-of-three series 1-0 on Tuesday, with a varying degree of difficulty.
Predictably, the most balanced game took place in Thessaloniki between fourth-placed PAOK and surprise package Nea Kifissia that finished fifth in the regular season. PAOK nearly surrendered its early advantage of 14 points, but DJ Cooper (scorer of 20 points) ensured PAOK is now in the series’ lead with a 70-66 win on the night.
Panionios also got challenged in Nea Smyrni by visiting KAO Dramas and its Bosnian star Edin Bavcic, who notched up 29 points and collected seven rebounds, but eventually the host emerged victorious with an 83-73 score.
Favorites Panathinaikos and Olympiakos had no problems at home against Apollon Patras and Aris respectively. Panathinaikos scored a comfortable 88-61 win over the Patra side with coach Frangiskos Alvertis using all of his substitutes as the margin of the lead reached up to 40 points. Olympiakos thrashed Aris 77-44 in the lowest scoring ever for the Thessaloniki team in the history of the A1.
Games 2 of all four series are scheduled for Thursday.